27 Aug 2008

WoW FEATURE - Lather, rinse, repeat...

Shampoo is great for people. It makes their hair smell nice and keeps it shiny and clean. Dwarfhead, however, dislikes shampoo for precisely those reasons. It breaks down his dwarfish musk and general air of unkemptness and... I'm sure this analogy was going somewhere... Oh yes: when shampoo gets in your eyes it stings to buggery. No, that wasn't it...


Imagine yourself moving into a house constructed entirely of Pink Panther wafers. Well, just like that house, World of Warcraft is appealing to live in at first, but the pleasure that you receive from making it your home (and snacking on the walls) is blown when the whole thing collapses under its own weight after a week of miserably persistent rainfall. And all you're left with is a pile of pink sludge.

The point I'm so appallingly trying to make here is that taking part in World of Warcraft has been a consistently dreary existence. I feel like I've wasted my time and, although I do waste many hours playing games, most of them are entertaining enough for me not to realise this in such sharp relief.

I've been doing the same quest for ten days. I've been in the same environment for ten days. I've been having no fun for ten days.

I have several major issues with WoW, the first of which is the emptiness of the game. And I'm not talking about the lack of people. It's an MMO. There are loads of people bustling about, being friendly and being complete dicks, the same as any online game. It's the soulessness of the whole experience that gets to me, the feeling that surrounded by the cute and colourful shapes is something so ultimately repulsive that its not worth your time having a bash at it. Like a pinata filled with blood.

After a stint in WoW you never find yourself thinking back on what you've achieved or experienced, because the only thought in your mind is trudging through the next quest or winning the next piece of loot. The focus is entirely on what your next fix will be and I despise that feeling.

Most depressingly, I don't seem to have advanced anywhere. I've been at this game for hours and I'm still indiscriminately murdering wild animals for coppers. If a game can't grab me within the first ten hours of play then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way it's been constructed.

And I know I'm making these points as a single player in a massively multiplayer world that is best played as a co-op experience, but I really can't see how it can make the game much more rewarding. It's like roping in a friend to help you clean up some cat sick; it's far better than doing it all by yourself and a lot easier to get done, but at the end of the day you're still picking up bits of vomit.

Okay, that's about enough lazy analogies for one day and that's certainly more than enough Warcraft for one lifetime. This isn't quite how I intended to finish the feature, but when a game perturbs me this much, I need to wipe it entirely from my memory as quickly as possible.

My previous instincts were proven to be correct. World of Warcraft is not the game for me and I am still none the wiser as to how it's so popular with such a large audience. The addiction element is there, but I'm baffled as to how people get over the ever-increasing annoyance of playing it. There's just no give in the cyclical mechanic of leveling up to kill things to level up to kill things.

Oh well, mission failed. Dwarfhead was rubbish anyway. I've almost stopped caring, but there is one positive I can draw from this: at least the game is boosting PC sales.

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